Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Gospel of the Lord (aka the Gospel of Christ or Gospel of Marcion)

"The Ebionites, who use only Matthew's Gospel, are refuted out of this very same work, making false suppositions with regard to the Lord. But Marcion, mutilating the Gospel according to Luke, is still proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those passages which he still retains. Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remains impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, prefer the Gospel by Mark. However, if they read it with a love of truth, they would have their errors rectified. Those persons, moreover, who follow Valentinus, make copious use of the Gospel according to John to illustrate their conjunctions. However, they, too, will be proved to be totally in error." -Irenaeus' Against Heresies 180 AD.
As some of my readers may already know many things about Marcion, I am writing with the hopes that all this information will be new to you, and so I seek to present it in a fashion that begins with the very basics on Marcion, and proceeds to the more complex- and then onto my theories on Marcion that will be much more complicated and harder to follow. The above is a quote found in the famous work of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon: Against Heresies. From Eusebius' Church History book V chapter XX we find the following:

"1. Irenæus wrote several letters against those who were disturbing the sound ordinance of the Church at Rome. One of them was to Blastus On Schism; another to Florinus On Monarchy, or That God is not the Author of Evil. For Florinus seemed to be defending this opinion. And because he was being drawn away by the error of Valentinus, Irenaeus wrote his work On the Ogdoad, in which he shows that he himself had been aquainted with the first successors of the Apostles.   
4. In the letter to Florinus, of which we have spoken, Irenæus mentions again his intimacy with Polycarp, saying:
“These doctrines, O Florinus, to speak mildly, are not of sound judgment. These doctrines disagree with the Church, and drive into the greatest impiety those who accept them. These doctrines, not even the heretics outside of the Church, have ever dared to publish. These doctrines, the presbyters who were before us, and who were companions of the apostles, did not deliver to thee."    
5. “For when I was a boy, I saw thee in lower Asia with Polycarp, moving in splendor in the royal court, (see citation #1)

6. I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years. For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and the manner of his life, and his physical appearance, and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord. And as he remembered their words, and what he heard from them concerning the Lord, and concerning his miracles and his teaching, having received them from eyewitnesses of the ‘Word of life,' Polycarp related all things in harmony with the Scriptures.  
7. These things being told me by the mercy of God, I listened to them attentively, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart. And continually, through God’s grace, I recall them faithfully. And I am able to bear witness before God that if that blessed and apostolic presbyter had heard any such thing, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, and as was his custom, would have exclaimed, O good God, unto what times hast thou spared me that I should endure these things? And he would have fled from the place where, sitting or standing, he had heard such words.

8. And this can be shown plainly from the letters. Thus far Irenæus."
Bithynia et Pontus and Asia Minor were very bustling Christian regions during the the first half of the second century. Paul's churches were founded here and in Greece and Macedonia. From these churches sprung up many teachers such as John, Cerinthus, Marcion, Florinus, Valentinus, Ptolemy, Polycarp, and Ignatius. There was speculation in the 10th century that Marcion had delivered his Gospel to the Apostle John. Eusebius cites Church traditions as teaching that Papias, Polycarp, and Ignatius learned from John and that Clement was apointed by Peter and Paul. Every group layed claim to the Apostolic succession argument. Valentinians and Marcionites claimed succesion from Paul and Catholics from Peter, Ebionites and Cerinthians from James, and the list goes on. If you read the notes on book V chapter XX on you will find the comment that Florinus was a deposed Presbyter of Rome. He was deposed likely by Bishop Victor who changed the liturgy into Latin, banned Quartodecimans and excommunicated many people from communion. Victor was from North Africa, likely Carthage. It is rather strange that Irenaeus, who was not a Monarchian (an Ebionite belief) would place emphasis on the Monarchy of God. We find in Irenaeus' work that he was well aquainted with the Valentinian Ptolemy (Ptolemaeus who is mentioned as a Martyr by Justin) and from the practice of the Valentinians it seems likely that the only way Irenaeus could have known Ptolemy's teachings is from a three year initiation into the Valentinian sect, thus it seems likely to me that Irenaeus was once a Valentinian, and unlikely that Florinus was once a Catholic.

The following is found in the notes on book V chapter XX:
"ἐν τῇ βασιλικῇ αὐλῇ. This expression is a little puzzling, as the word βασιλική implies the imperial court, and could not properly be used of the provincial court of the proconsul. No sojourn of an emperor in Asia Minor is known which will meet the chronology of the case; and hence Lightfoot (Contemporary Review May, 1875, p. 834) has offered the plausible suggestion that the words may have been loosely employed to denote the court of Titus Aurelius Fulvus, who was proconsul of Asia about 136 a.d., and afterward became the emperor Antoninus Pius. and endeavoring to gain his approbation."  
What this above note ignores is the fact that Polycarp and Marcion were active in Bithynia et Pontus during the reign of Trajan. (It also ignores the fact that Titus Aurelius Fulvus is only mentioned in the Augustan History, a very poor late source full of myths). It was this time that Pliny the younger was governor and first encountered the Christians of the region. We even learn from a work on the seventy apostles by Hippolytus of Rome, that Philologus mentioned in Paul's epistle to the Romans (a letter likely not to Rome, but to the Romans living in Bithynia) was bishop of Pontus. We also know from writings of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius various facts on Marcion- one being that he was the son of the bishop of Pontus.

Not only do we know that Marcion wrote the Antitheses and possessed a Gospel of the Lord, but we can know for certain that he wrote the Martyrdom of Polycarp. We also know that Polycarp wrote more than his so-called letter to the Philippians via Eusebius as quoted above. (see book V chapter XX verse 8). Marcion also possessed a collection of ten epistles/ letters of Paul labeled the Apostolikon. We do not know for certain what letters it contained.

From 110-112 AD Pliny the younger was the Governor of Bithynia et Pontus. His first name was Gaius and it is possible that he is the Roman Gaius mentioned in the New testament although this sees a bit fringe to me. He was the employer of Suetonius and friend of Tacitus. Both of which wrote of Christians. We have quotes from Celsus against Christians in Origens work Contra Celsus. We have accusations against the Christians found in the Letter from the Christians at Lyon via Eusebius' Church History. Elaine Pagels points out in her book Revelations that The Golden Ass is a satire about the absurdity of Christianity in comparison to the cult of Isis/ Serapis. The Talmud even makes many accusations in harmony with Celsus.

Pliny was the Imperial Governor or legatus Augusti of Bithynia et Pontus, a province that was established around 63 BC and lasted until the time of Emperor Diocletian who fragmented it into three provinces around the same time he persecuted the entire Church. Its capital was Nicomedia. Nicaea was chosen as the first place for an ecumenical council due to the fact that this was where the majority of Christians were martyred in the Roman Empire aka Rome. It is therefore true that the Christian church was founded in Rome, but not the city of Rome. It is supposed that 20,000 believers were slaughtered in the Diocletianic persecutions here. Nicaea was the crossroads from Galatia to Phrygia and it is possible that the Galata district of Byzantium was the center of the Galatian churches. The importance of these areas is reflected in the Pauline Epistles, Ignatian Epistles,Epistle of Polycarp, Revelation of John, Acts of John, and many other writings of the 2nd century AD. Byzantium is where the cult of Hecate was centered in ancient times and the star and crescent was this goddesses symbol, before Christians, and later, Muslims adopted it.

Pliny claims the Christians met on "a fixed day before dawn" claiming they "sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god" (Epistle X. 96) and "bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it. When this was over it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of a meal-- but ordinary and innocent food." Pliny says to Trajan that he "judged it so much more the necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were style deaconesses: but" he "could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition." The Latin word superstitio was often applied to heathen religions (non Roman pagan beliefs) and has come to mean "A belief, not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one's behavior in some magical or mystical way." These women seem to have believed that by observing the religious practices that they observed that Christ woluld return in the future and were thus accused of performing rites of necromancy. A common charge against heretics by the elite Roman Catholics from the 4th century onward.

We find deaconess means a "female slave" (see Elaine Pagels Revelations). While the Greek word Daikonos does mean servant, it actually is more specific and refers to a servant of a king. Thus, deacons belonged to a group that viewed Jesus or Christ as a King. These same believers used terms such as Gospel and Parousia in their writings. (see Christianity: the first 3,000 years by McCulloch). These were terms used by the cult of the Roman Emperor. The very idea of a deified king belonged to this cult. Thus, they were in strict defiance of Roman law and guilty of Seditio (sedition) against the Roman state. This was a crime punishable by beheading or crucifixion. While it was ideal that a Roman citizen received beheading rather than the excrutiating and inhumane death of crucifixion (aka the ultimate penalty), it was not always the case. We find when reading Josephus that three men were crucified among many and he knew them so the Romans let them down and one survived, we also find he was a Roman citizen and that many Roman citizens were crucified during the Roman-Jewish wars.

Pliny says that he asked those on trial if they were Christian and they admitted it, he asked once more with the threat of capital punishment, and if they persevered he executed them. He did not care that there creed was good in word, but that they were inflexible and obstinate. Pliny had Roman citizens transferred to Rome. We find that Paul was transferred to Rome and was shipwrecked. Marcion was shipwrecked as well and many Marcionites were Roman citizens sent to Rome. There are many parallels between these two men. Pliny and the Emperors forced Christians to curse Christ in order to be let go, but many of the governors had them curse Christ before killing them in order to mock their beliefs of not denying Christ. The Roman Inquisition had suspected heretics deny Christ as well. The Marcionites sang hymns to Christ as a God because they believed Christ was the God man, in opposition to the Ebionites who were labeled by Ignatius of Antioch as Judaizers.

We know from written attacks against Marcion that he was supposedly a wealthy ship owner and a member of the church of Pontus who was excommunicated for following the opinion of Cerdo (Cerdon/ Kedron) and we know that a man named Kedron was bishop of Alexandria not much earlier. Marcion supposedly made a huge donation to the church of Rome like Paul was said to have done. I will be focusing on four Epistles of Paul in particular: Romans, 2Corinthians, Colossians, and Philippians. In doing so, I will looking for paralelles to Marcions beliefs and parallels to Catholic beliefs as evidence of interpolation. I will look at there doctrines, and use of the old testament as well. In doing so, I will use the Jewish Haggadah (see The Other Bible Barnstone) to show that Marcions views are thoroughly second temple Jewish.



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